September 24, 2020
Trucks will go electric, too
Gov. Gavin Newsom swept headlines yesterday after issuing an executive order calling for all passenger cars manufactured in California to be zero emission by 2035. Yet the order also accelerates an already ambitious clean truck regulation that was passed in April.
All medium- and heavy-duty trucks and buses must be zero emission by 2045, according to the April directive. The Air Resources Board (CARB) had previously aimed at transitioning about 75% of all trucks by that time.
Drayage trucks, which are used to move shipping containers around ports, now have a 2035 deadline to go all electric. Western Growers CEO Dave Puglia recently argued that adding costly regulations at ports raises food prices and lowers the competitiveness of California ag.
According to the governor’s office, zero-emission vehicles “will almost certainly be cheaper” by 2035. CARB Chair Mary Nichols acknowledged at a press conference that the governor’s authority in issuing the executive order will certainly be challenged in court.
“We’re just getting started,” said Newsom, adding that the administration will announce more “fast tracking” of climate policies soon.
Reactions to Newsom’s ban on gas cars
Newsom gained praise from Democrats like California Senator Dianne Feinstein, but scorn from state GOP lawmakers. “They say they care about our communities, and then they come up with this in the middle of a pandemic?” tweeted Assemblymember Heath Flora of Ripon. “Every utopian green energy idea that comes out of the Bay ends up hurting the Central Valley the most.” Newsom argued the order would clean up air pollution in the valley.
Senate Republican Leader Shannon Grove of Bakersfield said Newsom should focus on wildfires and not headlines. “Catastrophic wildfires can emit as much particulate matter in a single week as all of the cars on the road in California for a year,” she said in a statement.
When Newsom announced two weeks ago that he would be aggressively advancing the state’s climate policies, Asm. Jim Cooper of Elk Grove, a moderate Democrat, took issue. He argued California’s “lofty” green energy goals are hurting working-class families and widening the income gap.
“These policies benefit mostly the wealthy and well-off and leave communities of color to foot the bill,” he said. “It is wrong and it needs to change.”
Environmental and sustainable ag groups urged the governor to go further than the order yesterday and enact policies to bolster natural and working lands in mitigating climate change.
Newsom signing the order on the hood of an electric Ford on display.
NRDC calls for regs on neonic seeds
Seeds treated with neonicotinoid insecticides should be regulated as pesticides in California, six environmental groups led by the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) said in a petition filed with the state Wednesday.
“Scientific research links neonic-treated seed use to extensive and persistent soil and water pollution, losses of bees, birds, fish, mammals and other wildlife, and human health risks posed by chronic exposure to neonic-contaminated food and water,” the petition says.
The Department of Pesticide Regulation (DPR) "must register and track all seeds treated with neonics or other systemic insecticides, denying registration for particular treated seed products or treated seed uses where warranted” under the California Food and Ag Code.
U.S. EPA does not regulate neonic-treated seeds under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act.
Keep in mind: CalEPA Secretary Jared Blumenfeld, who oversees DPR, once worked at NRDC.
Farm groups backing Bayer in Roundup case
Bayer is getting help in its appeal of the first verdict in the Roundup cancer trials, where a jury found that Monsanto (since bought by Bayer) had acted with “malice and oppression” in failing to warn a California school groundskeeper of the dangers of using the weedkiller.
Both CropLife America and the California Farm Bureau Federation have filed letters backing the company in its appeal to the California Supreme Court.
An appeals court in July mostly ruled against Bayer, finding that federal pesticide law did not pre-empt Johnson’s state law claims, now a key issue before the state’s highest court. It also said in its view, Dewayne Johnson “presented abundant — and certainly substantial — evidence that glyphosate, together with the other ingredients in Roundup products, caused his cancer.”
The appeal is proceeding as Bayer rushes to settle claims that were supposed to be covered by a multibillion-dollar settlement announced in June. A case management conference in that litigation is being held virtually today before a San Francisco federal judge.
Lawmakers told to use stimulus to legalize farmworkers
House Democrats are using the coronavirus pandemic to make the case that farmworkers and other essential workers who are undocumented should get legal status.
Tom Jawetz, vice president of immigration policy at the Center for American Progress, a liberal think tank, told the House Judiciary subcommittee on Wednesday that the next Congress should use an economic stimulus bill to provide a path to legal status for undocumented workers. Those workers "will be essential to rebuilding our economy,” he said.
A young California farmworker, DACA recipient and college student, Vincente Reyes, told the lawmakers that undocumented workers are reluctant to speak up about dangerous job conditions for fear of being deported. “We are exposed to extreme heat, pesticides, to the risk of getting COVID-19. More recently, to the wildfires, and air that's unhealthy to breathe.”
Reyes said the House-passed Farm Workforce Modernization Act, which would legalize undocumented ag workers, would allow him to pursue his dream of becoming an engineer for NASA.
Rep. Tom McClintock, R-Calif., expressed astonishment that Democrats were pushing for legalization of undocumented workers during a pandemic and time of widespread unemployment: “How tone deaf can you be?”
Rep. Zoe Lofgren, D-Calif., opened the hearing saying that ag work “is more dangerous than ever. Many farmworkers must now quickly harvest at-risk crops in areas where the air is filled with ash and smoke.”
GOP, Dems disagree over ESA legislation
Republicans and Democrats clashed over legislation that would give states a larger role in recovering endangered species. .
The subject of the hearing before the Environment and Public Works Committee Wednesday was a bill introduced by EPW Chairman and Wyoming Republican John Barrasso. It would delay lawsuits challenging the Fish and Wildlife Service’s delisting of a species. The bill is backed by a long list of agricultural groups, including the American Farm Bureau Federation and the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture.
It “would delay the ability of a federal court to overturn a delisting rule” during a five-year monitoring period following delisting, Barrasso said.
Read the full report at Agri-Pulse.com
Nations raise concern over US farm subsidies at WTO
A former chief economist for USDA, Joe Glauber, warned recently that the billions of dollars in payments to farmers to offset trade wars and COVID-19 impacts would “attract attention” on an international level. And that’s exactly what’s happening.
Canada, the European Union, India, Australia, Brazil, Paraguay, New Zealand, Uruguay, Paraguay and Colombia all raised concerns of international market distortion Wednesday at the World Trade Organization. The countries asked the U.S. to explain the roughly $34 billion in what they consider trade-distorting payments in 2019. The WTO cap for those “amber box” subsidies is $19.1 billion.
USDA announced last week a new $14 billion round of coronavirus relief payments, and that was also brought up in the WTO meeting.
Keep in mind: Glauber expects U.S. amber box subsidies to reach $40 billion this year, more than double the annual limit.
He said it:
“Cars shouldn’t melt glaciers or raise sea levels.” — Gov. Newsom, in announcing his executive order on clean cars.
Bill Tomson, Steve Davies and Ben Nuelle contributed to this report.
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